For the people of Kolkata, the fifth phase of the ongoing state polls presented a completely different picture from last year’s Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) election, which was marred by violence.
Many are crediting city’s new police commissioner Soumen Mitra for ensuring peaceful polling on Saturday by adopting a ‘model code of operations’ and keeping local goons on a tight leash.
“Last year, during the KMC polls, I saw criminals fire shots to intimidate voters in this locality as the policemen sat idle. However, this year, the same force is so active that they are not even allowing anyone to loiter around the booth,” said Srija Saha, who had come to vote at a poll station near Park Circus.
Park Circus was not an exception. Even in traditionally crime-prone areas like Garden Reach, Metiabruz and Khidirpur, not a single incident of violence was reported throughout Saturday.
Forget using firearms, miscreants could not even resort to brick-batting in the areas falling under Kolkata Police’s jurisdiction.
“It depends on the leadership. If the commanding officer leads from the front and gives a clear message, anything can be achieved,” remarked former Kolkata Police commissioner Tushar Talukdar.
In Tollygunge, a joint team of police and central forces ordered temporary closure of a TMC office as it was too close to the polling station. The police also razed down several camp offices of the ruling party for being within 100 metres of a polling station.
As a precautionary measure, the police on Friday itself cracked down on known hideouts of criminals to weed them out.
While Mitra has been receiving rave reviews for the way he has marched his troops, TMC leaders continue to cry foul over the removal of former commissioner Rajeev Kumar.
Kumar was removed from the post in April after the Congress and BJP accused him of being biased towards the state government.